DAVID PYE: It's not so much about seeing the big occasion as being seen at it
Updated 8:12am Tuesday 11th March 2014 in Sport
THE clamour for tickets for the big boxing rematch between Carl Froch and George Groves is about to begin with the May showdown set to break the attendance record for a fight on these shores.
As someone lucky enough to have been ringside for the first meeting in Manchester as part of The Bolton News’ coverage of Bury world champion Scott Quigg on the undercard, there is no doubt in my mind it will be another classic.
But the question is, how many inside a packed Wembley Stadium will see it properly? Not that many I can assure you.
Promoter Eddie Hearn is hoping for a crowd of at least 60,000 and possibly up to 80,000 which would smash all records for a boxing bout in this country.
Aside from the well-to-do and A-list celebrities who can afford the best seats in the house, Joe Public’s best view will be via the big screens hanging above the ring in the centre of the pitch.
I know what that’s like after being at Ricky Hatton’s clash with Juan Lazcano at Manchester City’s Etihad Stadium in 2008 and also at the re-match between Nigel Benn and Chris Eubank at Old Trafford in 1993.
On both occasions, I was a paying punter in the stands – the Hatton bout currently holds the attendance record for a UK fight – and as such had my own split-decision to switch my eyes between ring and screen for the best view.
The fact is these days most people do not care – the vast majority are there to be part of the event and the experience.
It is now a common feature at sporting events. Where once we went to cheer on our heroes at relatively reasonable prices at the end of the working week, now it’s about being seen at the big events.
There is a completely different demographic at the showpiece sporting clashes.
You just have to look at the recent Champions League clash between Manchester City and Barcelona. When Lionel Messi went to take a corner in front of the home fans, there were more smartphone camera flashes than irate vocal outbursts – how times have changed since Maradona’s day!
I cannot criticise, because I have fallen into the trap myself. While my football is still sacrosanct and partisan, I have forked out for big sporting events just for the experience.
From the ICC Cricket World Cup in the West Indies in 2007 and Ricky Hatton’s showdown with Floyd Mayweather Jnr in Las Vegas to Ashes Tests at Old Trafford, one-day cricket finals with Lancashire at Lords and an England v Australia rugby clash at Twickenham. They have all been fantastic experiences.
I suspect thousands preparing to wait in a long website queue for Froch v Groves II tickets on Monday will be of the same mind so that they can one day tell their grandkids – I was there.